Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

Glendessary Pt 1, too many water features

Glendessary Pt 1, too many water features

Postby Fife Flyer » Thu May 05, 2016 4:23 pm

Route description: Sgùrr na Cìche: 3 Munros from Loch Arkaig

Munros included on this walk: Garbh Chioch Mhòr, Sgùrr na Cìche, Sgùrr nan Coireachan (Glen Dessary)

Date walked: 02/05/2016

Time taken: 10.5 hours

Distance: 27.3 km

Ascent: 1974m

3 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

As the BIG day gets slowly nearer, the planning becomes more intense and serious and weather forecasts are no longer the huge problem.
I had arranged to meet up with Pauline on 3rd May to tackle Sgurr Mor (WR Part 2 to follow), so rather than go backwards across country I booked a night in Roybridge and decided to pay the other 3 Glendessary hills a visit the day before. One thing for sure, had I not booked the room I definitely would have bailed out. Us fair-weather walkers all of a sudden become hardy (ish) creatures :lol: :roll: :shock:
I left Fife at 6am and it took the usual couple of hours to reach Spean Bridge and then the “fun” drive began :roll: I had an inkling that I was in for a very soggy underfoot day, especially as lots of the open ground near Drumochter was flooded and that only happens after a prolonged downpour :(
I had heard about the road down the side of Loch Arkaig, so I thought I would get myself prepared by googling it for any photo’s. There are a few but they don’t remotely prepare you for what lies ahead.
The initial part of the road is fine, once you pass the big fancy newish houses the road then starts to become interesting.
I stopped on the way as a small waterfall kind of caught my eye, basically I couldn’t miss it. That was the second hint that the day was going to be slow going and kind of damp.

Image Some power coming down

Image Zoomed didn't want to get too close otherwise I would have been soaked before I set off

Image Nice little stopping place to take a photo

Image Even got it's own rainbow

Image The road now becomes interesting

The forecast for the 2 days in Glendessary wasn’t actually that bad, a few hefty showers, but the main problem especially as height was gained was the “considerable buffeting”, that is Met Office speak for windy.
The drive along to the end of the loch took about 40mins and when you reach the more challenging bits it is almost impossible to reach 30mph, unless you want to be airborne! I have never encountered so many blind summits especially on such a short stretch of road and I do mean blind, you approach the brow of the hill completely blind and then have to guesstimate which way to turn the wheel. There are no warnings about blind summits as the road sign makers would make a fortune, there are warnings about cattle grids!!!
Enough of the road.

Image Parking area

Image The initial track

Image One of the many water features

Image Remnants of the old bridge

I set off on my trek at 9.15 and the plan was to tackle the 3 hills clockwise. The track that takes you through the forest is in good condition and good progress was made, however once the forest is left behind after 5 miles, the going then becomes a tad more challenging. The path from then on was in parts either a burn, bog or standing water. I met a couple of guys heading in the opposite direction, they told me they had spent the night in the bothy, they had attempted Sgurr na Ciche the day before but had to abandon due the snow conditions in the gully.


Image Still a good track

Image Wouldn't fancy driving over it?

At one point a small burn requires crossing, I daresay on a normal day it would be easy peasy, however it became something of yet another challenge. This involved going into the very dense wooded area that was also bog infested and I would have been better equipped with a machete rather than walking poles.

Image The track & the small burn

Image The dense wooded area on the right

Image The track now looking a tad damp

Image The way ahead

Image Looking back

Image New water feature created overnight

Image Crossing point on a normal day

Image Water feature

Image The way ahead & up into the clag

Image Just about the last of the views, Lochan a' Mhaim

Image Looking back down

Image Looking down from a wee bit higher

Image Loch Nevis

Image Loch Nevis zoomed

The walk up to Druim nam Uadhag was a matter of trying to avoid standing water, of which there was plenty – another challenge.
Once the flatter area was reached I then headed off towards the gully, there were patches of snow on the ascent and it was just a matter picking my way uphill carefully. There is a nice little impromptu waterfall near the top which I was keen to avoid, but the wind was gusting forcing the spray in all directions.

Image Waterfall at the top of the gully

Image Looking down the gully

Image Snow just above the gully

Image Not much to see :(

At the top of the gully I then tried to follow the path up the side of Sgurr na Ciche, however the snow patches were becoming more frequent and covering the path.
Eventually after about 5 hours I reached the summit and the views were exactly the same as quite a few recent outings ZERO. Plotted my route and discovered that 5 hours to the summit is superb especially as Naismith can do it in 4hrs 53mins.
It was windy and cold, my camera was in my rucksack so I took a quick photo on my phone and started heading down.
When I reached the bealach I met a guy who had stopped to make himself a cup of tea, I also noticed another couple of guys on a large patch of snow ascending the next hill Garbh Chioch Mhor. I had a brief chat and they were all in the same group and were going to tackle the Sourlies.

Image Cracking views

I set off uphill following the stane wall which basically takes you to the summit and to the final summit as well, not quite sure why anyone would want to build a wall so high up but hey ho it no doubt kept someone busy for quite a while.
The second summit was reached and the views were exactly the same – ZERO.

Image Stane wall pretty easy to follow


So I soldiered on following the wall and trying as best as I could to stay on the path. The distance between the 2nd and 3rd hills is quite considerable and involves plenty of going down and back up.

Image Looking back

I finally got a brief view whilst plodding along – hooray :clap: :roll:

Image Coire nan Gall, he says having looked at the map :roll:

Image Same shot zoomed, Loch Quoich just creeping into view


Image Almost a view of Loch Quoich

I would imagine that on a normal day the views would be quite spectacular, but they will have to wait for another day.
The third summit was reached and it was just a matter of following the path downhill.
The path meanders down the shoulder and as usual is easy to lose in the boggy sections and if a path can be lost, I will easily lose it.
At the bottom of the shoulder a rickety wooden bridge is then reached and as I was following the WH there is a path of sorts that follows the fence line. This path gets a bit more obvious when it meets up with the path off the Sourlies, however it was still a bogfest.
When I reached the edge of the forest on the right hand side I noticed a bridge in the distance and also the really good track which is used for the inward plod.
In an instance I thought I have had enough of this dodging water so I headed off towards the bridge with gusto and a proper spring in my step.
Once over the bridge I was thinking why is this bridge here? There is no path and not much sign of anyone having headed up to rejoin the track.
No matter, I took a kind of direct line towards the path and any previous bogfests were small fry compared to what I was about to wade through.
I must also say that my new Salomon boots (purchased from Webtogs, cheap plug) had done a superb job until now, but even wellies would not have kept my feet dry. I reached a rather bad boggy bit and before I could do anything I was thigh deep in mud that was like quicksand, I tried to lift my left leg but the mud wasn’t for letting me go. I slowly hauled my left leg up and lurched across the other side of the bog. Thankfully that was the worst over, I was feeling pretty miserable at this point both feet were absolutely soaking and I still had 4 miles to walk back to the car.
I was walking as fast as I could in an effort to warm up my feet but it really wasn’t the most pleasurable experience and the sight of the car was greeted with the biggest smile you could ever imagine.
What an adventure 10hrs 30mins of mixed emotions, nowhere near as many photo’s as usual and the thought of doing it all again the next day in a similar direction wasn’t very appealing. Being a man of my word I duly turned up next morning and met up with Pauline, that will be part 2 of this punishment!!
User avatar
Fife Flyer
Munro compleatist
Posts: 2498
Munros:255   Corbetts:49
Grahams:33   Donalds:83
Sub 2000:123   Hewitts:2
Joined: May 15, 2013
Location: Guess?

Re: Glendessary Pt 1, too many water features

Postby basscadet » Thu May 05, 2016 9:27 pm

Good effort in that conditions :D - Up to the thigh is nuts, you were lucky to get yourself free :lol:
User avatar
Munro compleatist
Posts: 2779
Munros:84   Corbetts:52
Grahams:18   Donalds:8
Sub 2000:34   Hewitts:13
Wainwrights:17   Islands:21
Joined: Dec 1, 2011
Location: Edinburgh

Re: Glendessary Pt 1, too many water features

Postby pollyh33 » Thu May 05, 2016 10:16 pm

Well done Martin you've managed to capture the essence of these hills perfectly!!!! :shock: :shock:

I'm guessing a few days after the event you are still scared/scarred by the road to hell!!!! :lol: :lol:

Could it be that a wee bit of adrenalin is pushing you through the 'cannae be arsed with these conditions' pain barrier when the finishing line is just ahead???? :? :?
User avatar
Posts: 2577
Munros:282   Corbetts:18
Grahams:5   Donalds:2
Sub 2000:1   
Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Location: Rutherglen

Re: Glendessary Pt 1, too many water features

Postby Jaxter » Fri May 06, 2016 10:44 am

That sounds pretty wet :lol: I think we made the right decision to go East after all, at least we got plenty of views in between the 'buffeting'... Well done for persevering - 3 hills you won't forget in a hurry!! :clap:
User avatar
Posts: 1478
Munros:205   Corbetts:125
Grahams:78   Donalds:46
Sub 2000:118   Hewitts:62
Wainwrights:70   Islands:34
Joined: Aug 8, 2011
Location: Glasgow/Inverness

3 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Walkhighlands community forum is advert free

Your generosity keeps this site running.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by donating by direct debit?

Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: BARRYLID73, Hantswalker, Mal Grey, petelynn, purpleknitz and 52 guests